Low Testosterone Levels May Cause Early Death in Men
"New study suggests that testosterone replacement therapy can help men live longer"
Researchers at the University of California's San Diego School of Medicine, say men who have low testosterone are less likely to reach middle age compared with those who have high levels of testosterone. Testosterone
The study's findings provide more evidence that there may be a case for some men being placed on "testosterone replacement therapy" - the male equivalent of hormone replacement therapy in women.
The decline in levels of testosterone is called andropause or male menopause. Experts say testosterone levels vary widely from man to man and often fall with age and fatherhood. Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testes; it triggers the onset of puberty and is closely associated with vitality and vigor.
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Low testosterone levels have been associated with low sex drive, lethargy, problems with achieving and maintaining erections, mood swings, weak muscles and a greater risk of depression.
The study's lead author Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, says though the findings have very exciting and important implications, they are not advocating that men should take testosterone to prolong their lives. Dr. Barrett-Connor suggests it is possible that lifestyle determines the level of a man's testosterone and it may be that testosterone levels can be altered by lowering obesity.
For the study the researchers examined the medical histories of 800 Californian men, aged 50 to 91, who were taking part in a chronic disease study started in the 1970s. It was found at the start of the 1980s that a third of the men had unusually low testosterone levels for their age.
The difference could not be explained by smoking, drinking, physical activity or pre-existing illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes and this group of men had a 33% greater risk of dying during the next 18 years than the men with high testosterone levels.
The researchers say why low testosterone is linked to premature death is unclear but men with the lowest levels were more likely to be overweight, have high blood pressure and high levels of "bad" cholesterol, and in general have poor quality of life.
Experts say levels of testosterone in men of all ages are falling and the study is of interest because of the association with metabolic syndrome, the risk factors for which include waist measurement over 40 inches high levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
The team presented their findings at the Endocrine Society conference in Toronto.